Ratner v. Texaco, Inc., Case No. 1:05cv-00946-LW, No. , 2005 WL 1320458 (E. D. Ohio, June 3, 2005)
Joel Ratner filed his putative class action lawsuit in Ohio state court on February 17, 2005, one day before CAFA’s effective date, against Texaco, Shell Oil and others, raising two Ohio state law claims. Ratner also limited the class definition to himself and all other similarly situated Ohio residents.
The defendant oil companies filed their notice of removal on April 11, 2005, claiming jurisdiction under CAFA, as it amended 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d). The Tenth Circuit had previously faced a similar issue — when is an action “commenced” under CAFA — in the now-familiar Pritchett v. Office Depot.
As in Pritchett, Ratner argued that the action was “commenced” when suit was initially filed in state court, and Texaco and Shell responded, as in Pritchett, that the action was “commenced” when it was removed to federal court. The oil company defendants attempted to distinguish Pritchett as being “at odds with both the weight of authority and with the purpose and structure of [CAFA]”, an argument quickly disposed of by the Court. The Court applied the “plain and ordinary meaning” for the disputed term “commenced” in determining that the date of commencement of the civil action was the date the complaint was initially filed in state court. The balance of the decision contained similar reasoning to and extensive citations from Pritchett.
The Court rejected the plaintiff’s attempt to recover attorney’s fees for the alleged improper removal by the defendants.